Californication, Showtime, Airs Sundays 10pm E/P
Episode: “Slip of the Tongue” (Season Two, Episode One)
Synopsis: Picking up a few months after the events of last season’s finale, the Moody family is together, (mostly) happy, and planning to move back to New York City. Hank (David Duchovny) and Karen (Natascha McElhone) are both excited about the move and the future, but their daughter Rebecca (Madeleine Martin) is scared that their rekindled love won’t survive. Rebecca’a fears begin to come true when her parents attend a Hollywood party where Hank’s tongue accidentally ends up in a stranger’s vagina. Although that seems to be a valid reward for the vasectomy he suffers through earlier in the episode…
Review: Following on the absolutely terrible and horribly ill-conceived ending to last season’s finale, this episode scares me as much as it scared Rebecca. A quick recap of last season… Hank and Karen are split. He has women dangling from his schlong constantly, but the only woman he truthfully wants is Karen, and she’s engaged to a piece of plywood named Bill. The season follows his quest to earn back her love while dealing with his own drink, drug, and bajango addictions. Karen still loves Hank, but she knows the relationship will never work until he gets control of his own life. Wedding day comes, Karen marries Bill, and then in the worst final ten seconds of any finale ever, she comes running out, jumps into the car with Hank and Rebecca, and the threesome drives off laughing and happy and full of shit. Before that final ten seconds, Californication was a show filled with sex, laughs, raunchiness, brilliant dialogue, and honest observations on loss, desire, and life. After those final ten seconds I had to wonder if the show could continue on any of those levels. Hank got what he wanted so where’s the conflict? If he does fuck up again with another woman wouldn’t that put them back into the same situation they just left behind? But this time he’d no longer be deserving of happiness with Karen.
Which brings us to this episode… and the realization of all my fears. Hank and Karen are together and happy and the only mention of Bill is as a punchline before sex. The conflict of unrequited love is replaced by an impending move to New York City, a move that we know can’t happen because NewYorkification is a ridiculous title. They head off to a Hollywood party with the most disgusting couple on TV, Charlie the agent and Marcy the anal waxer, and the first test of Hank and Karen’s rekindled love occurs. In a ridiculous and predictable scenario straight out of the Jack Tripper School of Sitcom Worthy Mix-ups and Mistaken Identities, Hank leaves Karen undressing in a dark room only to return to a different dark room occupied by another woman naked and ready for sex. He dives right in, mouth first, only to realize several seconds later that it’s not Karen. He didn’t recognize the woman’s breasts were smaller than Karen’s? Or that she had a distinctly different moan? Or even a different pube layout? (Especially since this girl seemed to be wearing a small mammal-sized merkin.) Add to this some horribly forced dialogue throughout the episode, most notably between Hank and the surfer girl at the store, between Hank and Karen on the drive home from the party, and with the cop who pulls them over for the broken headlight… and you have a pretty poor start to the new season. It had the raunchy sex, but it was missing any worthwhile dialogue or honesty. I’m not giving up all hope (partly because I’ve seen the second episode and it’s a huge improvement) but I’m still leery about where the show can go this season.
Up Next Week: Hank meets and befriends a legendary record producer while serving time in jail and entertains the notion of writing the man’s biography; Charlie is fired when his duplicitous former assistant bad-mouths him to the president of the agency.
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